Preview: Saturday’s AIB All Ireland Club SFC Semi-Finals
By Cian O'Connell
Saturday January 4
AIB All Ireland Club Senior Football Championship Semi-Finals
Corofin v Nemo Rangers, Cusack Park, 1.30pm
The Nemo Rangers story isn't simply about securing success and silverware.
Responding to setbacks is part and parcel of the Nemo way so the Cork and Munster standard bearers will be anxious to deliver following the heavy 2018 AIB All Ireland Club loss against Corofin.
That 2-19 to 0-10 reversal hurt Nemo, but they are back in familiar territory on the national stage once more.
Since 2000 Nemo have collected eight provincial titles and one All Ireland in 2003.
The All Ireland series defeats have generally been by small margins with two exceptions in 2002 and 2018.
Crossmolina won a tense final by a point in 2001; Ballinderry did prevail by seven in the 2002 decider; St Gall's edged Nemo out by one in the 2006 Semi-Final; St Vincent's edged the 2008 by the narrowest of margins; in 2011 St Brigid's advanced to the showpiece by two; the 15 point hammering by Corofin was a rare hammering.
Still each and every time Nemo have replied, staying relevant down south. That is why Nemo venture to Ennis quietly confident about causing a surprise.
Any outfit containing Paul Kerrigan and Luke Connolly has a potent threat with the victories over Austin Stacks and Clonmel Commercials suggested Nemo are motoring smoothly.
On local turf Corofin did encounter awkward moments against Tuam Stars in the drawn Galway SFC Final before Gary Sice landed a string of inventive and important late scores.
Since the replay Corofin did what was required to secure a 10th Connacht Championship and a fifth in six campaigns.
Seriously high standards have been attained by Kevin O'Brien's team, and this is precisely the type of encounter Corofin have relished during the past decade.
Ballyboden St Enda's v Kilcoo, Kingspan Breffni, 3.30pm
Brimful of intent following their first Ulster triumph, Kilcoo, will be completely aware that a daunting test awaits against a formidable Ballyboden St Enda's.
An intriguing contest beckons in Cavan between two well organised teams.
On a wretched December afternoon Eire Og led Ballyboden late on at O'Moore Park, but Anthony Rainbow's charges survived. Just about.
Substitutes Warren Egan and Michael Darragh MacAuley contributed crucial points, while Ryan Basquel also delivered when it truly counted.
Resilient and resourceful Ballyboden enjoyed an impressive 2019 with Robbie McDaid an influential figure at centre back and Declan O'Mahony supplying leadership and guile at midfield.
A lively attacking unit includes the Basquels, Ross McGarry, and the experienced Conal Keaney so Boden, All Ireland champions in 2016, are eager to claim further titles.
Having won seven of the last eight Down titles Kilcoo subsequently endured setbacks in Ulster, but the arrival of Conleth Gilligan and Mickey Moran to the management set-up provided the drop of inspiration required.
Conor Laverty's ability to fashion opportunities and the continued willingness of the Branagans and Johnstons to deliver was evident in the provincial decider.
Following a decade of promise Kilcoo arrived. Now they want to make a mark in the All Ireland series. Ballyboden do too so it should be interesting.